Pets Q&A

Q I've adopted a male cat from my local rescue shelter and he has this strange habit of licking concrete paths. Can you tell me why he might be doing this?

A I would first of all want to know what you are feeding your cat. Most people feed a complete cat food, which is usually fine, but if you are feeding a homemade diet it may be that your cat has a nutrient deficiency and is seeking extra nutrients from his environment. Similarly, you should get your cat checked by your vet to rule out a possible medical cause for the behaviour.

Excessive licking can be a sign of stress, or a compulsive behaviour, so you should mention the behaviour to your vet. They might advise referring your cat to an accredited pet behaviour counsellor.

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Q I am buying two guinea pigs and need to know what size cage to buy for them as they will be kept inside. Can you give me some information?

A It is good news that you are buying two guinea pigs, as they are social animals and need company from their own kind. The home that you provide for them is where they will spend all of their time, so you should get one that is as large as possible. There should be a sleeping area and a large exercise area. They also need places to hide, such as tunnels.

If they don't get enough exercise, they can develop obesity and brittle bone disease. Temperature is another important consideration – heat stress can occur at temperatures over 27C, or they can develop hypothermia if there's a cold snap. For more information, visit